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Mon 10 Dec 2007 12:22 PM

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Private equity firms to raise $50bn

Middle East equity firms in for windfall as nations open up to more private investment, Abraaj says.

Private equity firms in the Middle East could raise and invest about $50 billion during the next few years as regional governments open their industries to more private investment, Dubai-based Abraaj Capital said on Monday.

"We have got very strong deal flow in this region, and it continues to get better and better," Arif Naqvi, chief executive of Abraaj, said in Dubai at a private equity conference called Super Return Middle East.

"Governments are beginning to realise that they need to be in the business of governance, rather than in the business of management," Naqvi said on Monday. Firms could raise about $50 billion, he said.

Middle East and North African nations, such as in the Gulf, Egypt and Algeria, need investment of between $500 billion and $1 trillion on infrastructure, including power and water, providing opportunities for private equity firms such as Abraaj, Naqvi said.

The region offers "tremendous" opportunities for private equity companies, encouraged by "reform-orientated and forward-thinking" regimes, he said.

The region is likely to be become a global "petrochemicals hub", using relatively cheap gas, Naqvi said. (Reuters)